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Calhoun ends spark at UW, looks to carry flame in NFL

Calhoun ends spark at UW, looks to carry flame in NFL

first_imgIt was the first day of class. Twenty or fewer students gathered in a cramped, sweltering basement classroom to find out what this semester would hold for them. Some students read the paper, some tinkered on the computer in front of them and others glanced around the room in search of that one “hot girl” or “hot guy” in every class.While some big-name athletes were noticed (such as basketball’s Alando Tucker and football’s Brandon Williams), one particular athlete, who scored five touchdowns just three days prior, went overlooked. In fact, it took roll call for the class to notice this modest individual. “Brian Calhoun,” the professor announced. “Here,” the future star running back replied. Heads turned, eyes rotated and whispers echoed through the room.With linebacker LaMarr Watkins later enrolling in the lecture, this was a Badger all-star class — and Calhoun, after only his first game, caused the most noise.Like most athletes with whom I have had the pleasure of sharing a lecture, I thought this setup was nice and would probably be the last time I would see the guys in there.However, most of them proved me wrong, and Calhoun surpassed my judgment of most high-profile football players by far.In the beginning, the running back never missed a lecture (and this was a rather difficult class to attend), always had his hand up and was eager to advance in the class. He was a role-model athlete and a role-model student.But halfway through the semester, something changed in Calhoun. Though he still had a spark on the field, he was missing the spark in the classroom. Calhoun had started to miss class and, when he was there, he’d play on the computer. Something had changed, and it was obvious.November rolled around and his appearance faded just as fast as Booker Stanley’s appearances grew in the courtroom. By the time December snuck up, it was all but obvious — he wanted to go pro. And after a stellar performance at the Capital One game, Calhoun finally announced the decision last Thursday.”I have decided to announce that I will enter the 2006 Draft,” Calhoun said. “The decision to leave with one year remaining and eligibility to play football was a difficult decision, but it was done with a lot of forethought.”According to Calhoun, he started thinking about leaving UW back in October, right around the time he began to slack off in the classroom.”There really wasn’t a time when I said I should go into the NFL Draft. [There] were a lot of people speculating or talking about it before [the decision] became aware to me. It started back in October and, right around the Hawaii game, I started giving it a little bit of thought.”Ah-ha!It all made sense.Why stay in school and pick up a check for $913 a month from the athletic department when you could make millions in the NFL?The answer is easy — memories. Though he will get a chance to go to the NFL combine and draft injury free, he is giving up a chance to possibly go to the Rose Bowl, win a Heisman, set more records, be a hero to thousands and be the integral component in a rising team.There is also a huge list of running backs already entering the draft. Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Maurice Drew, Laurence Maroney and DeAngelo Williams will all be gunning for the first round. So why go pro now?”I think this is the right choice and this is the right time for me to make the jump,” Calhoun said. “I think after the bowl game … I thought I was ready to make this step.”Still, after a great year, what is the harm in staying another year at Wisconsin?Carly Piper gave up thousands of dollars after the Olympics to stay one more year, and the amount of money she gave up is almost unheard of in that sport.Peyton Manning also gave up a No. 1 pick in order to try to win a Heisman and a national championship for Tennessee. Unfortunately, he just missed out on both.But look at Manning now. This season, he led the Colts to 13-straight wins and now has a chance to win a Super Bowl. He is also the highest-paid player in the league and has twice been named NFL MVP.Piper and Manning both had one more shot and are doing fine now, and I think Calhoun should stick around like they did. But, instead, he will look to add the spark that he showcased at Camp Randall to some lucky NFL team.Also this summer, Calhoun plans to return to the classroom, where he used to show that spark of academic talent.”I’m fortunate to have a family where all three of them have degrees,” Calhoun said. “So it would be awkward if I didn’t finish my degree. It’s my No. 1 priority, and I’m going to take some classes this summer and next summer, too.”Shannon is a senior majoring in life sciences communication with the rest of the football team. If you would like to chat about players in the classroom, hit her up at [email protected]last_img read more